Gone With The Wind: SEC Tourney Blown To Tech

By Spencer Hall

Of the things I'd never thought would cross my mind, this thought's up there: am I going to die sitting three chairs down from Bill Raftery and Verne Lundquist? Is that Cloverfield coming to eat us all? How many of the sportswriters surrounding me can run to the bowels of the Georgia Dome without tearing an ACL? And if we're trapped here, which ones will I eat for food?

Fortunately, none of that happened. The flimsy veneer of order covering life did peel back tonight like so much insulation flying off the side of the Georgia Dome in the wind, though, taking a quick turn into the surreal. SEC officials sat in the lounge watching the news as I left, openly wondering what the next step would be.

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The Junior ROTC ball in the Congress center had been canceled, and high schoolers in ball gowns and uniforms wandered around looking at the hailstorm of garbage strewn over the courtyard of the Congress Center. Basketball fans took pictures and eyed the skies nervously.

The way home got even stranger: lights out through the Fourth Ward and Sweet Auburn, police fanning out with lights ablaze, and in some of the dodgier stretches, people clearly out to do some window shopping--the kind you do through windows by breaking them with bricks first. There weren't any traffic lights, something that made driving as fast as you could through the mess in the streets a lot easier. I drove past the Cotton Mill Lofts, where four floors collapsed and pancaked together; they're still digging to see how many people were in the structure.

As for basketball, chaos is the order there, too. The SEC will have Kentucky play Georgia at noon ET at Georgia Tech's Alexander Memorial Coliseum. The semifinals will be held Saturday night, beginning with Tennessee-Arkansas at 6 p.m. The UK-Georia winner will play Mississippi State at about 8:30 p.m. The SEC championship game has been pushed back two hours and will be held at 3 p.m. Sunday.

This means Kentucky could have to play three games in 27 hours to get the SEC title done and tidy before the NCAA Tournament Selection Show rolls out the bracket Sunday night. It sounds like madness, but the only other real option was cancellation, and that would involve giving back large amounts of cash to television partners, something successful and profitable conferences don't like to do.

As it is, pretty much every basketball fan in town for the tournament will be shut out. The SEC is going to allow only the players' families and media into Georgia Tech's arena. That means the Kentucky-Georgia game and then the semifinals and final will be played in front of 2,000ish people.

The SEC plan to lock out the fans is sure to infuriate the 10,000 or so rabid Kentuckians here in "Cat-lanta." But here's another way of looking at it, UK fanatics, "YOU JUST SURVIVED A FREAKIN' TORNADO!" ↵

This post originally appeared on the Sporting Blog. For more, see The Sporting Blog Archives.

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